Thursday, February 7, 2013

What Happens (When I'm) In London...

I was in London for four weeks-- about 675 hours-- this summer.  And you all know what happened on my house during that time: pretty much nothing.  Sure, we purchased our appliances and had them delivered, and "finalized" (ha!) our cabinet order, but that month was basically the first of several months that can be viewed as a complete waste in this process.  So you can imagine my surprise when this week, during my 34-hour stint in London, major headway was made Stateside.

First off, I got a voicemail upon my arrival at Heathrow Airport from Estes Express, a private shipping company, that I had what sounded like "600 pounds of stone" ready to deliver to my house.  Now, I had no idea what the guy was talking about, but I was game; after all, someone wants to deliver something!  Turns out it was our bathroom floor tile, 600 pounds of it, and it was coming a week earlier than we were told it would.  You may remember it had been on back-order, and we were given a date of February 10 for delivery.  And here they were, trying to deliver early.  I put them in touch with Mark, and he arranged for a Wednesday delivery, "between 12 and 6."  (Why do all deliveries have to have such huge windows?  Do they really not have a smaller window they can work with?)  Now, I'm considering this a success because, even though it is now Thursday and the tiles have not been delivered yet, the process worked... almost.  You see, even though Mark told Estes that there was a low clearance to get to the house-- due to the two little tunnels you have to go through to get by the main NPS building, Estes didn't seem to understand, and they sent a 13-foot truck for the delivery.  The clearance on the higher of the tunnels is apparently 10.5 feet.  So they called me-- at this point I'm in Belgium and it's after midnight, but I'm happy to oblige, since it may mean the delivery of the very thing the whole project needs to start-- and act as a conduit between them and Mark (again) until I just tell Mark to do the calling.  Turns out they can't even put the tile on a pallet, because technically the house is on a hill, and 600 pounds of tile on a pallet is not easily pushed, pulled, or otherwise coerced to move uphill.  (I say "technically" because even though I realize the house is on an incline, I don't think I had ever really considered that it truly was uphill, both ways, to get to the place.  Think of the stories my kids can tell their grandkids!)  So as far as I know, Mark is going to get his pick-up truck or van, park it probably 100 steps from the house, transfer all 600 pounds of tile from the delivery truck to his own, then drive his truck for maybe 15 seconds, park, and do a second complete move.  I don't envy him.  Except, well, it's gotta be done, and it's his job.  But in the end, I'm hoping by the time I get back to DC this weekend I'll be able to see some progress on the bathroom flooring.

The delivery truck couldn't fit through this tunnel.
Looking at it now, I don't understand how.
This looks a lot higher than 10 1/2 feet to me.
FYI, our house is immediately to the right of this shot,
and we see this stuff out our bedroom and kitchen windows.

I probably won't see progress on the wood flooring in terms of it being laid, but I very well may actually see it in the house.  That's because the order has been finalized, Mark talked to Floor Center and arranged to pick up the materials as early as 24 hours after the heat went on in the house.  And with Washington Gas coming by on Wednesday to set the meter and start the service, that could be as early as, well, today!  The part of this all that happened while I was in London, since that's the theme of this post, is the actual finalization of the order.  I went to see a show in the West End, and had about 20 minutes between the time I picked up my tickets at will-call and curtain-up.  So I called Floor Center to finalize the order-- 12,000 square feet, plus three long pieces of matching end-step material and five matching thresholds-- and spoke with Rory about arranging for pick-up.  Come to think of it, since the wood floors could be in the house by today, and the tiles could take until tomorrow to come (and hopefully not much later), I guess the wood flooring work could start first.  Either way, flooring!

And speaking of flooring, there's actually something completed in the house!  The tile Abby bought last week at Home Depot has been laid in the laundry room and the storage room.  Abby said she saw it on Wednesday, before they finished grouting, and she loves it.  I promise I'll get a picture as soon as I get there, and hopefully by then the washer and dryer will have been set in place as well.  Cool thing about this all is that once those two rooms are painted, we can actually start putting stuff in them!  Stuff like storage systems and STUFF-- as in OUR STUFF.  Granted, we just paid the bill to ZippyShell for February's storage, but I'll be pretty eager to get stuff into that area, since it'll be progress we can actually effectuate, as opposed to waiting for someone else.  I asked Mark for a quote on painting, since that wasn't included in our original estimate (to make it come in below the maximum loan amount), and we'll likely end up doing at least a bit more painting ourselves; I can't imagine that we wouldn't be painting the laundry and storage rooms ourselves, for instance.  I wouldn't mind doing some other stuff, and Abby has already been doing the kids' rooms, but there's no way I'm getting up on a scaffold or some crazy-tall ladder to do the great room.

Was I on this bus talking to Patty?
I'll never tell, although I can verify
I did see this building that day.

One last thing that happened while I was in London was finalizing the draw.  I had submitted the paperwork on the way to the airport on Sunday (and got sucked into two hours of work along the way, helping my coworker dig out from a mountain of Embassy Ankara bombing-related stuff, since my flight was delayed anyway) and thought everything was fine.  But on Tuesday afternoon as I left the Embassy in London I got an email from Patty saying I had to submit a lien-waiver request.  Argh.  So I talked to her while riding a double-decker bus in the rain back to my hotel (no lie, she got a kick out of that), and used the business center there to print out, scan, and email the form back to her.  I got an email late Wednesday noting the draw was approved, and expect to have that gigantic check in my hands this weekend.  (Remember, it's just money I've already been paying interest on, so it's not like it's a windfall, but it'll still be much appreciated!)  There's only a few thousand dollars left in the loan, which should be good to go before the end of next week when the loan officially is closed off, so all of that anxiety we were feeling about that issue a few weeks ago is all but gone now.  Now?  It's a sprint to the end-- I really do feel that.

So I would say that's a lot of progress, especially for less than a day and a half.  Not to mention, we had some progress the day before I left as well.  Although we drove up to a closed Acme Stove on Wednesday, we tried again on Saturday, successfully.  It was a breeze to order our fireplace insert-- which is not an insert, so I should stop calling it one.  We walked in, a salesman asked us what he could do for us, and we told him exactly what we had: the dimensions of our fireplace, a gas connection, the height of our mantel, our desire for actual heat, our preference for a traditional look.  He took us to the far corner, said "there you go," and showed us one model among several.  He said there were three sizes, there were three looks, and there was a choice of manual or remote starting.  I love easy choices!  A) the biggest one they had; B) the one that looked like the wood had been burned; and C) I didn't care, but since the remote system cost $350 more and Abby had no issues with turning the manual one on when she attempted it, we went for the cost savings.  There was one system that was prettier, in that the flame danced and flickered more, but the salesman explained to us that that system was not for sale, and was only an example of what people had in their heads, but was a terrible system to have.  Apparently when there's more flickering and more yellow flame, it's a much less efficient system and actually causes moisture in the room due to incomplete combustion-- hence, flickering.  The one we bought has a lot more blue flame (the hottest kind) at the bottom, and has a lot less flickering (denoting efficiency) at the top, and as a result is much better.  He did warn us that we are not allowed to burn it for more than 2-3 hours at a time and, like someone selling a purebred dog, said he wouldn't sell it to us if we didn't understand that.  Sounds good to me.  We put in the order, paid $1200, and should have it ready to install by about next weekend.

Come on over, in a few weeks, and warm yourself by our
RH Peterson RealFyre G-18 Evening Fyre Split Logs in "Charred."
If you remember the whole name, we'll let you make some S'mores.

There are still a few more projects that need a kick in the butt.  I don't know what's going on with the cabinets, and have to check that out.  (Note to self, send email before bedtime tonight.)  It also seems as if the four missing window frames, which were supposedly being manufactured by a company in Wisconsin, are not; Lee, the contractor from the Windmill, Pagoda, and Chalet, recommended a company in Baltimore, and Mark's going to get in touch with them to see if they can help us.  The floors on the second story are going to be finished, but only once the downstairs floors are delivered and laid.  The bathrooms can be finished, but only once the bathroom floors are delivered and laid.  And then there are doors.  Abby found a bunch of doors at Community Forklift, a place that deals in used housing materials in Hyattsville, and we've gotta see about getting them-- up to 15 of them!-- this week.  And a few other things as well, like doorbells and a kitchen sink.  But we're getting close, and now my inability to sit still is being caused less by complete nervousness and more by complete fidgetiness brought on by the light at the end of the tunnel growing considerably bigger and brighter over the last ten days. 

If only I spent a day and a half in London a long time ago.

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